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How to Find a Realtor in Bend, Oregon: 5 Essential Questions to Ask

We know: you likely won’t have to look too hard to find a Realtor in Bend, Oregon or most anywhere else, provided we aren’t talking about farm properties in the Arctic Circle. What’s hard is finding a Realtor who not only is good at what they do but also understands you and your needs intuitively.

Choosing a Realtor is a very important decision, and it’s also a very personal one. Your cousin’s best friend’s sister’s coworker’s fiance may have just gotten their real estate license, but we always recommend interviewing multiple agents whether you’re planning to buy or sell a home.

As you’ve probably recognized, we are indeed a real estate company based in Bend, Oregon. We’re not going to tell you, though, that you just need to cut to the chase and hire us.

We’re here to offer you tools that will help you make your own informed decision. We want to be an oasis of detailed, reliable, and actionable information in the oft-desolate wasteland of generalizations, half-truths and re-directs that is the Internet.

Toward that end, we’ve prepared a list of five questions to ask your prospective Bend Realtor before you sign on the dotted line. Some of these apply mainly to either buyer’s agents or seller’s agents but might be good to ask in either case so you can get a better feel for how your agent handles their business.

Without further ado, here’s the five questions you should be asking if you’re trying to find a Realtor in Bend.

Question #1: How Well Does Your Realtor Know Bend’s Real Estate Market?

This one should be obvious enough, but we do live in an era when anyone can claim to be an expert about anything. With the proliferation of web portals like Zillow, Redfin, et al, anyone can watch the market. But there are a few different layers to this question.

First of all, how well does your agent know Bend, and in particular the part of Bend where you want to buy or sell a home? Knowing how to get around is one thing. Google Maps makes that easy enough, but the more personal and market-driven context your agent can give you, the better.

Two micro-neighborhoods may look pretty similar on the surface, but there are different considerations that might make or break a particular location if you’re a buyer. These small details can also have a major impact upon value, and there’s no way that the big national property sites can take everything into account.

Even an agent’s detailed CMA (Competitive Market Analysis) might leave out some of the most important factors. In general, homes with certain features in certain locations are much likelier than others to attract a bidding war.

Whenever multiple offers are involved–especially if we’re talking 8, 9, 10 or even more–the rules of the game change significantly. Your Realtor needs to be prepared.

If you’re a buyer on a budget, it’s helpful to know which neighborhoods are likely on the up-and-up and likely to appreciate. Your agent needs to be able to lay out all of the options. We crunch all our own numbers and prepare monthly and quarterly reports that are some of the most detailed and thoughtful in the ‘biz.

Lastly, if you’re relocating to Bend from out-of-area, your Realtor’s local knowledge base becomes all-the-more important. It’s one thing if you’re moving to Bend because you have to for work or school but another if Bend is one among several choices.

If the latter describes you, try to get a feel for whether your would-be Realtor is trying to sell you on Bend or presenting you with a balanced and nuanced view of the potential advantages and disadvantages. Relocating is an often-lengthy process, and if your agent is only on board for the end result and not the process, you’re justified in throwing them overboard.

Question #2: What Advantage Does Your Realtor Offer Over the Competition?

Sometimes people assume that all Realtors offer pretty much the same services. There are problems with that assumption, though. If your prospective Realtor struggles to tell you how they’re unique, that should be a red flag.

Be wary of sales numbers and empty platitudes. There is no “Midas touch” that comes from big name recognition, especially in this age of unfettered access to listings. Hiring a big name often means hiring a big team, and while some teams are well-oiled machines, a gap in accountability can often result.

Knowledge is obviously key, as we’ve covered above, but so is first-hand experience. What battle stories can your would-be Realtor offer about deals they put together in circumstances similar to yours?

There’s a big difference between being on the sidelines and being right in the thick of the action. It isn’t that “what can go wrong, will go wrong,” but plenty of obstacles can come up in the course of any real estate transaction. You want a Realtor who has been there and done that and won’t get flustered.

Different Realtors have very different skillsets. A real estate transaction will go quite differently depending upon whether we’re talking about a single-family home, townhouse, bare land, farm property, ranch property, forest property, or new construction. Different issues can pop up with each of these.

Your Realtor, in Bend, Oregon or elsewhere, needs to know exactly what they’re looking at. They also need to know how to communicate that to other agents and know exactly where to apply leverage. That’s the single biggest advantage your Realtor will be able to give you, but whether they can deliver depends on your situation and their skillset.

What you don’t want is someone who is willing to manipulate the rules of the playing field. That almost always backfires, whether in the shorter or longer-term.

Personal integrity is important. If you can trust your agent implicitly not only will you have a better experience but you’ll get better results, even if you don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on every little detail.

Question #3: Is Your Realtor Willing to Negotiate on Real Estate Commissions?

99% of the time, real estate commissions come from the seller’s side, so this question doesn’t apply as much if you’re interviewing a buyer’s agent. Still, it could provide both you and your would-be Realtor some interesting food for thought.

In Bend, as with most markets around the United States, a 6% commission is still pretty much the unspoken default. 5% and even 4% commissions are becoming more and more common though.

Not every property requires the same investment of time, energy, and money in order to market it effectively. As a seller, what matters the most is how much you can net from the sale of your home. If you can pay less and get more, isn’t that a win-win situation?

With that said, it’s good to be wary of so-called “discount” real estate brokerages, particularly those that have started to proliferate online. That’s why commission is just one of the items on our list. The worst-case scenario is that you’ll get in a situation where your Realtor is cutting corners, or worse just doesn’t have what it takes to put together a sale once the smallest obstacle arises.

Depending on the particulars of your situation, a discount commission may not be a very good option or even an option at all. In our view, though, this is a conversation that your prospective Realtor should at least be willing to have with you.

Some Realtors like to pull out outdated arguments for why discounts should never be given on commission, but we think they don’t hold much water anymore.

In particular, we’ll go so far as to say that your Realtor really, really ought to offer you a discount if you’re planning to both list your home and purchase a new one with them. If your would-be agent hesitates on that one, take it as a warning sign.

Question #4: How Much Does Your Realtor Actually Know About How Homes are Built?

This question is a little bit unfair, granted. Real estate and construction are two distinct career paths, and their skillsets don’t necessarily overlap.

What does overlap, though, is the subject matter, and this seems like a good opportunity to outline the difference between a salesperson and an actual agent. A salesperson’s job is to make a sale. Some superficial knowledge about the product they’re selling is necessary, but a more detailed understanding can actually be a hindrance.

Some Realtors, unfortunately, are salespeople. If a client is interested in a home, they won’t try to stop them, even if some things may not seem quite right. It can be a matter of passing the buck to the inspector: they’ll find out it something is seriously wrong, no further questions needed.

An agent’s job, though, is to look out for their client’s best interest. Whether or not that leads to a sale isn’t the point. How can a Realtor look out for your best interest if they don’t know what they’re looking for?

LOHR Real Estate’s Principal Broker, Kip Lohr, has almost a decade of experience as a licensed general contractor and remodeler of high-end homes. That’s a pretty high bar for most agents to match, but it certainly gives him a distinct advantage.

On the seller’s side, Kip’s experience enables him to offer clients the most accurate sense of which improvements will offer the most bang for the buck. On the buyer’s side, it gives him an advantage in terms of catching potential issues on initial viewings and negotiating repairs after issues are identified during inspections.

Still, it’s just as important to know what should and shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-killer. If a home has signs of significant issues but multiple offers are creating pressure to overlook them, it can be better just to walk away.

Once an issue comes up on a report, most sellers will be motivated to address the issue, but whether or not the buyer ends up footing some of the bill depends on various factors. Your Realtor needs to know where to apply leverage. They also need to know whether a seller’s proposed fix will actually address the issue or just mitigate it temporarily.

On the seller’s side, a savvy Realtor will be able to determine whether a buyer’s requests are reasonable or not. Inspectors will generally err on the side of caution in pointing out potential issues, and your Realtor needs to know where a second opinion is warranted.

Question #5: Who Does Your Realtor Work With?

There are two different sides to this question, both of them important. First of all, it’s pretty much the norm for established agents to have teams working under them. Oftentimes, however, the leader of a team will interact extensively with clients in the initial stages but then become more scarce once you’re in contract.

These kind of set-ups can work fine in some cases. Teamwork makes the dream work, and having people with varied and complementary skillsets working to help you find or sell your home is a good thing. Ask your prospective Realtor what kind of team they’ve put together, and have them name names.

Still, it’s important to know that the buck stops somewhere and that you’ll be able to have your Realtor on speed-dial nights and weekends if things get sticky. Ideally, your agent will be directly involved in each and every aspect of your transaction, even if they have help around the office. That’s the model we follow, and we think we have a pretty good set-up.

The second side of this question involves the lenders, inspectors, escrow officers, photographers, and contractors to whom your prospective Realtor is comfortable referring their clients. This aspect of real estate is often overlooked, but it’s actually crucial. Let’s take lenders as an example.

When it comes to strong seller’s markets like Bend’s, buyers need any advantage they can get, particularly when multiple offers are on the table. Big, national lenders can offer competitive rates, but there can be major strings attached in the form of hidden fees. A quick close is often off the table even if everything goes right, and often it doesn’t.

Listing agents who have been burned in the past by big national lenders will probably direct their clients to consider a different offer. A local lender is often a prerequisite–and it will actually serve you better 9 times out of 10.

Not all lenders are equal, however. A lender–and anyone else a Realtor might refer you to–should be someone who they can work closely with and get results that are better than the competition.

You want to be working with the most thorough inspectors, most detail-oriented photographers and videographers, most communicative escrow agents and most dilligent contractors. At the same time, there isn’t a one-size-fits all approach to every situation, and your Realtor should be able to refer you to different professionals for different situations.

The Bottom Line: Is Your Realtor a Good Fit for You and Your Situation?

After asking all of the above questions, you’ve hopefully got a pretty good idea of what your would-be Realtor is all about. The next, and most important question, though, is one that you need to answer yourself.

A Realtor may say all of the right things, but if it just doesn’t feel like a good fit, that’s definitely something to pay attention to. This process is about your intuition as much as anything else, but hopefully we’ve given you some tools that you can use to match what’s in your gut with the facts on the ground.

No two real estate markets are exactly alike, and your Realtor needs to know what makes Bend’s market tick.

We’re presenting all of this information not as a marketing tool but because it’s a good way to give you good information, and it’s also a way to help you get to know us better.

If what you see here vibes with your intuition then we’re happy to schedule a time to chat and answer these and any other questions that you might have. We don’t want to just talk about us, though–we’re here to listen and find out about what you’re looking for and what makes you tick.

Even if you’re just in the preliminary stages of maybe considering a purchase or sale down the road, we are happy just to be a resource for you. Just contact our Bend office–we are ready to help, wherever you are in your process.

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